A climate for innovation (From an Editorial)

Many persons have won honours on Republic Day for distinguished achievement in various fields, but the spotlight also falls on a small group of ten individuals who got prizes for useful inventions. They have been chosen by the Inventions Promotion Board for developing ideas that are likely to benefit the economy. In a country as conservative as ours, new inventions are not always welcomed and exploited and, even in the mechanical field, the older models are praised to the detriment of the latest design. Yet there is also the attraction of novelty and a new type of wristwatch or radio has its customers. The Government is now ready to acknowledge that innovation is important if this country is ever to stand on its own technological feet. Industrialists are being urged not to import foreign technology if the required machines can be obtained from local sources. Considerable progress in local manufacture has, in fact, been made but the copying of foreign designs is more common than local invention. It should, however, be pointed out that many of the policies followed are not favourable to a climate of innovation. In an article published in The Hindu Weekly Magazine last Sunday, Mr. Jack Goldman of the Xerox Corporation of America described the factors which favoured the development of the “second industrial revolution” in the U.S. rather than in Europe.

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